Entertainment The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century  

Ranker TV
1.5k votes 186 voters 2.8k views 49 items

List Rules Vote up the greatest serial drama series that have premiered in the new millennium.

As opposed to most sitcoms, and even action TV shows, there's something about serial dramas that's so much more captivating. Oh that's right, it's the fact each episode plays off the last, stringing you along for an entire season—in a good way. In essence, it's a lot like watching a 20+ hour movie in periodic segments. That is, unless you're binge watching an entire series, which really isn't unheard of in the 21st century. In fact, it's actually more heard of. We all love binge watching our favorite shows, and the same goes for the best serial dramas since the new millennium. 

Since the year 2000, television has seen an array of fantastic dramas come and go, and even come back again. These top serial dramas of the 21st century are enthralling to say the least, spanning across a broad range of plots and settings. From top serial dramas like Game of Thrones to Dexter and everything in between, these shows are always intriguing to say the least. 

Take a look at the best serial dramas of recent memory below and be sure to up vote your favorites. You can also add any serial dramas after the year 2000 that aren't on the list. If you're a movie buff, check out the best movies of the 2000s.

list ordered by

1
84 16
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn
Breaking Bad is an American drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. The show originally aired on the AMC network for five seasons, from January 20, 2008, to September 29, ...more

2
59 24
Game of Thrones is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke
Game of Thrones (HBO, 2011) is an American fantasy drama television series created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, based on the series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin. Nine noble ...more

3
42 22
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn
The Wire is an American drama television series set and produced in and around Baltimore, Maryland. Created and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the series was ...more

4
39 23
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas
Dexter is an American television drama series. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter pattern analyst for Miami Metro Police Department who also leads a secret life ...more

5
30 16
The Americans is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Maximiliano Hernández
The Americans (FX, 2013) is an American period drama television series created by Joe Weisberg. Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) are two Soviet KGB officers posing as ...more

6
26 17
The Sopranos is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco
The Sopranos is an American drama television series created by David Chase. Revolving around the fictional New Jersey-based Italian-American Tony Soprano, the show portrays the difficulties he ...more

7
25 17
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks
Fargo (FX, 2014) is an American black comedy drama anthology television series created by Noah Hawley, and inspired by the 1996 film. Various chronicles of deception, intrigue and wrong doings ...more

8
19 11
Vikings is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen
Vikings (History, 2013) is a historical drama television series created by Michael Hirst. A farmer (Travis Fimmel) rises to fame by successful raids into England, and eventually becomes a ...more

9
24 18
Homeland is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend
Homeland is an American political thriller television series developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa based on the Israeli series Hatufim, which was created by Gideon Raff. The series stars ...more

10
24 18
Bates Motel is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot
Bates Motel is an American drama thriller television series developed for television by Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin and Anthony Cipriano, and produced by Universal Television for the cable network ...more

11
18 12
House of Cards is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Kevin Spacey, Michel Gill, Robin Wright
House of Cards is a 2013 American political drama television series developed and produced by Beau Willimon. It is an adaptation of the BBC's mini-series of the same name and is based on the ...more

12
22 17
True Detective is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan
True Detective (HBO, 2014) is an American anthology drama television series created by Nic Pizzolatto. Each season focuses on detectives investigating violent offences.

13
28 24
Lost is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia
Lost is an American television drama series that originally aired on the American Broadcasting Company from September 22, 2004, to May 23, 2010, over six seasons, comprising a total of 121 ...more

14
25 21
Westworld is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright
Westworld (HBO, 2016) is an American science fiction western thriller television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and based on the 1973 film. In a technologically advanced Wild ...more

15
22 19
Downton Abbey is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern
Downton Abbey is a British period drama television series created by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece. It first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom and Ireland on ...more

16
18 15
The Leftovers is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston
The Leftovers is an American television drama series created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta airing on HBO. It is based on Perrotta's novel of the same name. The pilot was written by Lindelof ...more

17
20 18
Hannibal is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas
Hannibal is an American psychological thriller–horror television series developed by Bryan Fuller for NBC. The series is based on characters and elements appearing in the novel Red Dragon by ...more

18
8 5
The Handmaid's Tale is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Elisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski
The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu, 2017) is an American web television series created by Bruce Miller, based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood. In a dystopian future where women are brutally ...more

19
20 19
The Blacklist is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff
The Blacklist is an American crime drama television series that premiered on NBC on September 23, 2013. Raymond "Red" Reddington, a former U.S Navy officer turned high-profile ...more

20
20 19
Sons of Anarchy is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal, Mark Boone Junior
Sons of Anarchy is an American drama television series created by Kurt Sutter, about the lives of a close-knit outlaw motorcycle club operating in Charming, a fictional town in California's ...more

21
24 24
The Walking Dead is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Andrew Lincoln, Jon Bernthal, Sarah Wayne Callies
The Walking Dead (A&E, 2010) is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series developed by Frank Darabont, based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie ...more

22
12 11
The Shield is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent, Walton Goggins
The Shield is an American drama television series starring Michael Chiklis that premiered on March 12, 2002, on FX, in the United States, and concluded on November 25, 2008, after seven seasons. ...more

23
17 18
Six Feet Under is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Frances Conroy
Six Feet Under is an American drama television series created and produced by Alan Ball. It premiered on the premium cable network HBO in the United States on June 3, 2001, and ended on August ...more

24
15 16
The Killing is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Mireille Enos, Joel Kinnaman, Billy Campbell
This show is an American drama television series that premiered on April 3, 2011, on AMC, based on the Danish television series Forbrydelsen. The American version was developed by Veena Sud and ...more

25
11 12
Deadwood is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Serial Dramas of the 21st Century
Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker
Deadwood is an American western television series created, produced, and largely written by David Milch and aired on the premium cable network HBO from March 21, 2004, to August 27, 2006, ...more